Saturday, September 30, 2023

‘Masonic researchers to unite’

Thank you for reading The Magpie Mason. We have been together fifteen years now.

So I told you about The American Lodge of Research meeting jointly with Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research at the end of October, but before then, TSW will meet with Western New York Lodge of Research and Ohio Chapter of Research. From the publicity:

A joint meeting of Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research, Ohio Chapter of Research, and Western New York Lodge of Research will be convened on Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14 at Western Star Lodge (692 Ridge Road) in Lackawanna, New York.

Western Star Lodge 1185.

Friday evening, Holy Ark Chapter 304 will host dinner at 6:30. The supper will consist of baked Italian chicken with cold green bean salad, garlic salt potatoes, and “make-your-own sundaes.” Dining fee is $22 payable at the door, but reservations to Jeff Williamson here are necessary.

Following dinner, Thomas Smith Webb Chapter will open at 7:30 for the purpose of research and study. Several papers will be presented. Masons who are not Royal Arch Masons will be accommodated to listen and participate.

On Saturday morning, we will reconvene at nine o’clock and additional papers will be presented until noon, including RW Bruce Renner, who will discuss “A Lodge Walkabout for the Esoterically Inclined.”

Attire is sport coat & tie and Royal Arch regalia, if applicable. Brothers from WNY Lodge of Research, who are not Companions, will wear a white Masonic apron or symbolic lodge regalia.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

‘Tomorrow night: Guarding the Arcane’


Sorry for the late notice, but Heather Calloway will be the speaker tomorrow night, being hosted by the Masonic Renewal Committee. She will present “Guarding the Arcane: The Quest to Preserve Fraternal History” via Zoom and courtesy of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction. Click here to register. From the publicity:

Engage 2023
Masonic Renewal Committee

MRC Engage Conferences are exactly what the name implies: opportunities for the Masonic leader to engage with knowledgeable presenters on a range of topics important to the success of our fraternity. MRC Engage Conferences are delivered via Zoom. Each is one hour of information to make you a better, more informed leader.

Guarding the Arcane:
The Quest to Conserve
Fraternal History
with Dr. Heather Calloway
Thursday, September 28
8 p.m. Eastern

Heather K. Calloway, MTS, MLS, Ed.D., is Executive Director of University Collections, Indiana University; Director, Center for Fraternal Collections; Research Lecturer, IUB Curatorship, and IUPUI Museum Studies.

Dr. Heather Calloway
Drawing upon a professional background as an archivist spanning more than twenty years, Dr. Calloway has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the preservation of archival, museum, and library holdings. She will talk about strategies and best practices to preserve your fraternal history. Heather holds a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation focused on preserving Masonic grand lodge libraries, archives, and museums. Prior to moving to higher education, she spent fourteen years at the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

‘NYC mayor is a Mason now’


The worst mayor New York City has had in living memory was made a Mason by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge during the weekend, the New York Post reported last night.

Mayor Eric Adams took a little time off from destroying America’s former greatest city to be—I suppose—initiated, passed, and raised by the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York at the mayoral residence. (I’ll guess made at sight.) That’s the legit grand lodge, the one up on 155th Street. Police Commissioner Ed Caban and NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey also received the degrees, or something.

“Kevin Wardally, the head of the NYPD’s office of intergovernmental affairs, is one of the lodge’s officers, a grand junior warden,” the Post says.

Read all about it here.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

‘Azim and Shamaliu team up’

The Mystic Prophets in formation at Masonic Hall today. That’s the Shamaliu Prophets attired in Grotto black and red. I think we Aziminians need to reinvigorate our sartorial traditions! Grand Monarch Victor, front and center, in a superb sport jacket.

It was the High Holy Days Edition of Azim Grotto Ceremonials today, as the Prophets gathered at Masonic Hall to impart lessons in Sympathy and Good Fellowship upon Pilgrim Neophytes from New Jersey.

Some of the Shamaliu contingent
with Monarch Dave in front.

The Mystic Prophets of the newly chartered Shamaliu Grotto (I forgot to ask those guys what the name means) (I’m told it is the Arabic word meaning “northern”), which meets in the Shriner building in Morris County, outnumbered us! Some were actual candidates, receiving their fezzes as new Prophets, but most already had their black headgear, but had not been through the Ceremonial initiation. All that is corrected now, and I imagine the Shamaliu Prophets will tackle their own ritual work henceforth.

Shamaliu Monarch Dave gets a few pointers
on regalia from Azim Monarch Eric.

Theirs is the second Grotto during this revival of MOVPER in the Garden State. The first, Simba, was launched two years ago, but already is said to be near death. (Sorry, but I predicted that. The lodges in Jersey basically are Grottoes, so I don’t know what novelty MOVPER offers the Masons there. Plus they already have the Shrine, the Sciots, Tall Cedars, and Scottish Rite, and all are moribund.) But Shamaliu appears to be in good hands, and I certainly wish them the best, as we Prophets impart Sympathy and Good Fellowship in a Brotherly Way.

Dignitaries on hand included (Azim’s own) Grand Monarch Victor Mann, who generously steered me toward his Soho tailor for bespoke suits and jackets; and District Deputy Frank Sforza, who always looks like he was born with that million-dollar-suit thing mastered.

John Roberts, PM
Victor once again had the honor of fezzing the new Prophets; Frank returned to the stage to dazzle us anew with his ritual prowess. And Past Monarch John Roberts was back. The Maestro, I call him. No, not ironically!

Other Grottoes were represented today, including Monker in Norwalk, which sent a few Prophets, including Monarch Ray Roche. I haven’t seen him since he was installed MEGHP of the Royal Arch Grand Chapter of New York seven years ago! I think a few Tri Po Bed Prophets were with us too.

We were told Azim has one more event upcoming, either next month or in November, before the elections and installation of officers at year end. And the Empire State Grotto Association has a meeting next month at Niagara Falls. Cheers to Monarch Eric on an eventful 2023.

Today, at least, the G in the Jacobean Room stands for Grotto!

Saturday, September 16, 2023

‘Capitol cornerstone commemoration Monday’


No red-blooded American Freemason needs to be told Monday is the 230th anniversary of the cornerstone-laying ceremony at the U.S. Capitol, and that Bro. Washington himself led the Masonic rites, but maybe you don’t know that a lodge in Delaware will commemorate the historic event with a re-enactment led by the Grand Master.

Doric Lodge 30 even garnered some media coverage already. Looks like fun, and it will be open to the public. Click here for details.

Friday, September 15, 2023

‘Advance one step…’

W. Matt Rancosky
The Master of Good Samaritan Lodge in Gettysburg will be out of town for a week and a half as he takes a hike across Pennsylvania to raise funds for several Masonic causes.

Matt Rancosky will advance one step, for starters, from Connellsville, not far from Ohio, and proceed to the Masonic Temple in Philly. From the publicity:

Walk My State
September 30 through October 9

Walking My State is a walk across the State of Pennsylvania to raise money for Masonic youth groups, the Masonic Widows Fund, and other charities of Good Samaritan Lodge 336. Brother Matt Rancosky, Worshipful Master, will walk 265 miles from the Pleasant Valley Masonic Center to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania in a ten-day journey.

Matt will track his progress daily on our Facebook page. Please come and join him for a little bit when he is in your area. This walk is not just about raising money for great charitable causes, but also about meeting brothers across the state and maybe even a chance to explain Freemasonry to others.

The fundraising part is understood in three denominations: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Click here to learn more about that. Gifts of other generous amounts are welcome too, of course, so click here to contribute thusly. On Monday, Matt will be the guest on the Masonic Lite podcast, so we’ll learn more about this after the weekend.

Headshot courtesy Darryl Wheeler/Gettysburg Times.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

‘The ALR & TSW to meet’


Portrait artist extraordinaire Travis Simpkins noted on Facebook this afternoon how today is the anniversary of the publication in 1797 of The Freemason’s Monitor; or Illustrations of Masonry by Thomas Smith Webb.

Thomas Smith Webb by Travis Simpkins.

Royal Arch Masonry’s newly revivified Thomas Smith Webb Chapter of Research in New York is maintaining an active schedule these days, including a special event next month.

Hope to see you there.

‘Research lodge headed to Harpers Ferry’

Civil War Lodge of Research 1865 will meet next month, this time traveling to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Logan Lodge 25 will host.
Change of plans: Hamilton Thompson 37 will host. I don’t have a meeting agenda yet, but so far the weekend will look like:

Accommodations at Days Inn by Wyndham Charles Town.

Friday, October 20

Dinner at 6:30 at White Horse Tavern

Saturday, October 21

Hamilton Thompson Lodge 37:

Officer Practice at 8:30
Refreshments at nine o’clock
Meeting at ten

Lunch at the Rabbit Hole at 11:30

1 p.m. National Park Service special event at Historic Lower Town


Dinner at six at Alfredo’s Mediterranean Grille & Steakhouse

Evening libations at Abolitionist Ale Works at 9 p.m.

I’ve been planning to attend since our meeting at Gettysburg in July, but I’m not yet sure I’ll be free.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

‘Traubenfest is near’


It is time for Traubenfest again! The Ninth Manhattan District’s autumnal celebration of German culture, with food, beer, music, and vendors, returns to the district’s own park on October 1–always the first Sunday of “Oktober.”

It’s a great time, and Tappan is a short, easy commute north of Manhattan.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

‘Live, once again, from the Livingston Library’

The lecture series, live in person, at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library is back. From the publicity:

From Gavel to Gigabyte:
Freemasonry’s Journey
Through 300 Years
of Technology
by Bro. Jason W. Short
Thursday, September 28
at 8 p.m.
Masonic Hall
Chapter Room on 12
Free & open to the public
Register here

Jason W. Short is a producer and craftsman of film and television in New York City. In 2020, he petitioned Aurora Grata-Day Star Lodge 647, where he was initiated the following year. On July 23, 2022 Jason was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason with a passion for continued study of the Craft. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a 32º Mason. He has had several guest appearances on the Craftsmen Online Podcast, and, as an avid reader, is a frequent visitor of the Livingston Library.

Masonic Hall photo
The Chapter Room.

Take note of the new start time and the meeting place. As always, photo ID is required to enter Masonic Hall.

Monday, September 11, 2023

‘MLMA elects new leaders'

MLMA photo
The newly reorganized leadership team at the Masonic Library and Museum Association. From left: Secretary Tyler Vanice, Vice President Dirk Hughes, President Glenn Visscher, and Treasurer Eric Trosdahl. The association held its annual meeting Saturday at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.

A few of us in attendance at New Jersey’s research lodge Saturday (see post below) also very much wanted to be at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial for the annual meeting of the Masonic Library and Museum Association, but we haven’t the seniority in the fraternity to use the transporter, thus missing the peaceful transfer of power there.

Speaking of New Jersey, Glenn Visscher is the MLMA’s new president. Glenn and his family created the Museum of Masonic Culture at the Scottish Rite Valley of Northern New Jersey about twenty years ago. The museum was relocated to the Trenton Masonic Temple twelve years ago and it is a very well rounded repository of material culture with regalia and memorabilia from across the Masonic spectrum, plus artifacts from early New Jersey Masonry, and a lot more. There also is a library—not a research library, but a sizable collection of books that can help a history lover get going down the path.

Tyler Vanice, the now immediate past president, is the new secretary. Dirk Hughes, of the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library, is vice president. Eric Trosdahl remains as treasurer. I think he’s been treasurer for about fifteen years.

Congratulations to all! I’m looking forward to whatever might be in store in the coming year.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

‘An encouraging word to spread the Light’

RW Bro. Rich was our lone presenter yesterday at New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786. He will be appointed Grand Historian in November.

A quick, but enjoyable, meeting of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786 was the highlight of my yesterday. We had just one presenter, Bro. Rich, who is to become his grand lodge’s grand historian come November. His talk wasn’t a paper on history, however, it was what one would categorize as speculative. Titled “The Shammesh Candle and Freemasonry: How One Candle Can Illuminate the World,” his discussion was inspired by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s bestseller My Grandfather’s Blessings.

I’m not familiar with it, but the publisher says, in part:

Dr. Remen’s grandfather, an orthodox rabbi and scholar of the Kabbalah, saw life as a web of connection and knew that everyone belonged to him, and that he belonged to everyone. He taught her that blessing one another is what fills our emptiness, heals our loneliness, and connects us more deeply to life.

Rich applied the book’s concepts to Masonic thought, illustrating his points with the candles on a small menorah (after switching off the lights). The shammash (there are various English spellings of the word) candle is that center taper in the nine-branch menorah. The Chabad branch of Hasidim says:

Each of us has the potential to be a shammash. We all have a responsibility to become teachers and impact the lives of others. Just as the shammash is usually placed above the other candles, a person who serves others, a teacher, becomes great because he or she is using a set of superior skills to make others great too. Following the shammash, the path to elevation is not through pushing others down, but by sharing with them and coaxing out the flame they carry within.

There was a little post-meeting grumbling because the presentation was not a tried-by-the-square research paper, but this research lodge, per its by-laws, makes time for other than academic studies. I liked it. It’s ideal for lodge or AMD council. I hope Rich continues to bring it to the brethren.

A large group of us then retired to a local steakhouse. Somehow, I spent fifty bucks on lunch! A cheeseburger, two Oktoberfests, and the worst onion rings known to man. Well, it’s right around the corner, so…

The research lodge will meet next on Saturday, December 9, for which I am to arrange a visit by the author of a historical novel that tells of early Freemasonry. More on that to come.

Friday, September 8, 2023

‘Find the “Lost Keys” in the Reading Room’

Craftsmen Online

I’ve organized a few book clubs over the years, and the second reading every time was Manly P. Hall’s The Lost Keys of Freemasonry for its brevity and the author’s enticing prose. And, because Hall wrote it about thirty years before he was initiated into the Craft, the book is kind of a curio. So I was delighted to learn today that the Reading Room at Craftsmen Online has chosen Chapter Five as the focus of its next discussion. From the publicity:

The Craftsmen Online Reading Room will re-open on Sunday, October 29 at 7 p.m. Our panel for the evening will be R∴W∴ Clifford T. Jacobs, Bro. Jason W. Short, R∴W∴ Bill Edwards, and V∴W∴ Michael LaRocco.

This meeting is open to the public, as all persons with an interest in the Ancient and Gentle Craft of Freemasonry are welcome. Our reading selection for October is from Bro. Manly P. Hall’s The Lost Keys of Freemasonry. We will be focusing on Chapter Five, “The Qualifications of a True Mason.” This will allow us to have a lively philosophical discussion without getting into any of the ritual work in a non-tiled setting.

Click here for a copy of this material. To join us, click here.

No RSVP is required to attended this event. Please save the date and Zoom link on your calendar.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

‘Grand Master’s Day at Tappan’


I think I’m not really ready for September because I forgot to remind you about Grand Master’s Day at DeWint House—on Sunday!

(There also is Grand Master’s Family Day at West Point for the ball game, but that is sold out.)

That’s from noon to five. Fun, food, and music for the whole family at the historic site that served as Gen. George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolution. A beautiful place with an impressive museum in addition to the seventeenth century house. RSVP to RW Lloyd here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

‘Prince Hall Day and more’

Next Tuesday will be the 288th anniversary of the birth of Prince Hall and, accordingly, there will be celebrations in New York and New Jersey this weekend and beyond. These graphics say it all:


Tuesday, September 5, 2023

‘You guys give your $3M today?’


According to the loathsome “United Nations,” today is International Day of Charity, so join me for a minute in the following discussion on Masonic charity. Obviously, there’s much that can be said, but I’ll skip the Rite of Destitution and the measured instructions to assist brethren, widows, and orphans, and I’ll challenge our orthodoxy on “giving to charity.”

You’ve heard it countless times: “Masons give $2 million a day to charity!” And there’s a high probability that you have repeated it yourself. From what I understand, that unquestioned figure is now $3 million. “Masons give $3 million a day to charity!”

Let’s be reasonable and think this over. That daily $3M factors to about $1.1 billion a year, so the implication is Freemasons in the United States annually dig into their pockets to that sum to help others, but I’m not buying it.

The $2M figure dates to mid twentieth century, when membership in America crested at four million in 1959–or, if not precisely then, it at least was from that era. Therefore it sounded plausible, believable, and logical enough to become the mantra we all came to know. However, today the nationwide membership is down 80 percent from 1959, and we are back in nineteenth century statistics with approximately 800,000 regular Master Masons in good standing—and that’s with inconsistent census-taking from grand lodge to grand lodge. Are 800,000 Master Masons donating $1.1 billion during Anno Lucis 6023?

Come on.

Due to the manipulations of the Internal Revenue Code of the United States—try deciphering those 6,900 pages!—the nature of charitable giving has been altered, forcibly, in recent decades, and today we have charitable corporations of the 501(c) variety. Some are big, like Shriners Hospitals for Children; some are modest, like your lodge’s square club’s charity fund. The square club’s checking account is where you find the actual cash from the pockets of Masons. The Shriners Hospitals, which always has been the engine that drove the “millions per day” claim, are endowed to the billions of dollars, and actually do not need the fraternity. The fraternity needs the hospitals to legitimize its existence. When the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine inevitably ceases to exist, the hospitals corporation will change its name and carry on.

I remember about fifteen years ago the expert consultants retained by the hospitals’ trustees to identify potential improvements to the system advised closing two of the then twenty-two hospitals that had gone disconcerting time without treating any patients. The trustees said no, so the two hospitals remained open, spending millions each year to maintain empty beds, and padding the famous “millions a day” boast.

Plus there are many other 501(c)(3) institutions at work: other hospitals, clinics, and care providers; medical research centers; homes for the elderly (which admit people who have no connection to the Masonic fraternity, thanks to Medicare regulations); special education schools; scholarship foundations; and who knows what else among the fifty-one grand jurisdictions in the mainstream of the Masonic society in America.

Maybe in the aggregate, and thanks to inflation, the corporate expenditures plus the local giving might total that $1.1 billion. I don’t have time to obtain the IRS 990s of all Masonic charities great and small. I just think it should be understood that:

a) bragging about charitable giving is self-aggrandizing and wrong;

b) the boast itself is misleading (if not myth); and

c) the boasting has skewed the identity and purpose of Freemasonry in this country irrevocably.

So try to defeat the lazy habit of leaning on funds donated decades ago to fashion an identity for yourself as we approach the second quarter of the twenty-first century. This edition of The Magpie Mason is dedicated to the Right Worshipful Grand Lecturer of the Grand Lodge of Kansas. Earl and I had a chat on Faceypage three months ago, during which I asked if he could explain his “more than $3 million a day” claim.

“There’s something called Google that was invented three days ago,” he replied charitably. “You should learn how to use it.” Eleemosynary Earl then blocked me, so I can’t tell him the internet actually is very limited in practical use to a researcher.

I was a Scottish Rite Mason as a younger man, and worked my way East in the local Rose Croix chapter (even before I reached the East of my lodge). I leave you with a snippet of Rose Croix Degree ritual (as it existed in the NMJ twenty years ago) that followed a reading from Corinthians 1:

“Charity means more—much more—than the giving of alms. It is respect for the personality of others; it is pity for the suffering; it is a sincere fraternal regard for all men—of every race and creed.”

It’s also hard as hell, and bragging about money, real or imagined, devalues us all.

‘Shadows in the City at MoMA’


Bro. Ari Roussimoff’s long lost film will be brought back to life at MoMA next month. Shadows in the City will be illuminated on screen at the Museum of Modern Art October 5-11 thanks to the museum’s Department of Film. From the publicity:

A story of suicidal obsession, conceived as a work of “contemporary horror,” Shadows in the City was the last major work of New York’s 1980s No Wave film scene. Shot over seven years in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, painter-performer Ari Roussimoff’s only fiction feature captures the urban desolation of the city in the decade before gentrification. This definitive work of “outsider cinema” boasts a who’s who of local cult figures, including Bruce Byron (star of Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising), Taylor Mead, Annie Sprinkle, Joe Coleman, Nick Zedd, Kembra Pfahler, Valarie Caris, Catfish Hayes, Clayton Patterson, the Hell’s Angels, and, in their final screen appearances, Jack Smith and documentary filmmaker Emile de Antonio.


Following limited screenings at New York’s Millennium, Angelika, and Bleecker Street theaters, the film was presented as an “expanded cinema” event with live performance at Limelight in 1992, and later in Germany and the Netherlands, before disappearing when Roussimoff became “preoccupied with other things.” Out of circulation thirty years, this original 16mm release print is being presented one last time before the Museum begins digital restoration.


Heavily influenced by the German Expressionist films Roussimoff saw at MoMA and in repertory screenings in the 1960s and ’70s, Shadows is a strung-out mash-up of noir art film, Neorealism, and the carnivalesque that plays out in a series of scripted and improvised scenes. Upon its release, the Russian-born Roussimoff was dubbed “dean of the disenfranchised” by the underground press, with Downtown magazine describing Shadows as a “combination dagger-in-the heart and pie-in-the face of the official counter culture.” The film’s documentation of New York’s physical and cultural landscapes of the 1980s is more arresting now than ever.

On Thursday, October 5, Roussimoff and the film’s art director, Clayton Patterson, will present the screening in conjunction with the publication of Patterson’s In the Shadows: The People’s History of New York City Underground Tattooing.

Ari just confirmed it.
If I’m not mistaken, Shadows in the City was the last film shown at Bleecker Street Cinema when it closed for good in ’91. (I don’t know why I recollect such trivia. I wish I had that talent with Masonic ritual!)

Ari is with Manhattan Lodge 31 in the First Manhattan District.


Monday, September 4, 2023

Scottish Rite Symposium next month’

Unless my memory really is failing, this is the first I’ve heard of this, but the Scottish Rite Research Society has a symposium planned for next month, and the call for papers is out. From the publicity:

The Indiana University Center for Fraternal Collections and Research is proud to host the 2023 Scottish Rite Research Society Symposium on October 14, 2023. Everyone is welcome to attend! The event will be held in the historic McCalla Building on the beautiful campus of Indiana University.

The symposium will feature a mix of presentations and panels. The Scottish Rite Research Society is one of the most dynamic forces in contemporary Masonic research, making it a natural partner for IU’s Fraternal Center.

The schedule of speakers will be posted as presenters are confirmed.

Call for Papers

The SRRS is interested in papers of interest to Society members, such as history of Freemasonry and the Rite, Masonic symbolism and philosophy, development and changes in ritual over time, and similar topics. Download the Call for Papers document for details. The deadline for submission of papers is October 1, 2023.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

‘Past Grand Master becomes a mason’

Court of the Lord Lyon photo
Joseph J. Morrow, the Lord Lyon, passes the test to become a mason. He served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 2004.

Here’s some fun news out of Scotland from yesterday: Bro. Joseph J. Morrow, who served as Grand Master there almost twenty years ago, passed the test Friday to become an operative—actual mallet-swinging—stone mason!

He has been having a busy year or so, first in a key ceremonial role following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and then transporting the Stone of Scone from Edinburgh to London for the coronation four months ago of King Charles III. All that was in his capacity as the Lord Lyon, and you can read about that here.

On Friday, according to the Court of the Lord Lyon, he “successfully completed the ‘test’ to become a mason within the Three Trades of Dundee (united in 1761) under the supervision of the Clerk Allan Keillor. The test was to carve a groove into a piece of stone using a hammer and chisel.”

Gaun Yersel!

Saturday, September 2, 2023

‘New Zealand Zoom lectures to come’

The brethren at New Zealand Masonic Forum have released their schedule of Zoom lectures through the end of the calendar year.

NB: These begin at 8 p.m. New Zealand Standard Time, so that’s 3 a.m. New York time.


Friday, September 1, 2023

‘Discussion on women in Freemasonry’


While I’m not acquainted with any of the panelists slated to speak at this discussion, I have no doubt this will be an enlightening and rewarding exploration of the topic. I regret not being able to attend. From the publicity:

Maryland Masonic
Research Society
Discussion Panel
on Women
in Freemasonry
Saturday, October 14
at noon
Kensington Masonic Temple


Anne-Marie Moody, Past President of MMRS and Most Puissant Grand Commander of the International Order of Men and Women, Le Droit Humain, American Federation

Raymonda Verdick, Most Worshipful Grand Commander, Feminine Grand Lodge of Belgium

Leslie Gilliam, Past Grand Matron, Order of the Eastern Star, Maryland

Moderator: Walter Benesch, Past President, MMRS

Book your seats by emailing the MMRS Secretary here no later than October 1. Lunch ($20/person) is an option before the panel discussion.

The Masonic Temple is located at 4315 Howard Avenue in Kensington, Maryland.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

’Secrets of the Mystic Knights of the Sojourners’

The Plot Against Harry opened at Film Forum on Houston Street. Play and advance to the 56-minute mark.

There is nothing at all Masonic in the plot of The Plot Against Harry, but there’s a minute and a half of funny fraternal initiation along the way.

An independent film—so independent that twenty years lapsed between its completion and its 1989 release—that recalls Cassavetes and La Nouvelle Vague, its beauty is revealed through steady deadpan absurdism (either you get it, or you don’t) and gelastic supporting characters. Which takes us to the meeting of the Mystic Knights of the Sojourners into which eponymous antihero Harry Plotnick (Martin Priest), a freshly paroled numbers-runner, is initiated, thanks to his lavish gift to the order’s pediatric hospital.

The Mystic Knights of the Sojourners initiates Harry Plotnick in Michael Roemer’s The Plot Against Harry.

Again, not Masonic, but there’s plenty to recognize and laugh at.

The Commander of the Mystic Knights (Leonard Margolin) presides over the initiation.

This is eighty-one minutes of ethnic humor, despairing misfortunes, and an O. Henry-like climax that Gene Siskel labeled “a very difficult film to describe,” and co-host Roger Ebert concurring with “I don’t know where to start with this movie.” The acting is supernal—effortless maybe—by the cast of unknowns, none of whom seemed to have achieved any progress in film or television.

Leo (Ben Lang), at left, the current husband of Harry’s ex-wife, sponsors his initiation.

The Plot Against Harry opened in revival Friday night at Film Forum, and will play through September 7. I caught it during my university days somewhere in midtown. If New Yorkers still went to the movies, that run would be extended a week, but get there when you can.

UPDATE: Extended through the 14th!